The redrawing of Washington’s 1st Congressional District and the vacancy created by Democrat Jay Inslee, who left his seat to run for governor, have created a competitive race that includes five Democrats, one Republican, and one Independent. The August 7 primary election will reduce the number of candidates to two for the November ballot.
REDMOND, Wash. — Six of the seven candidates running for Congress in the newly redrawn District 1 participated in Seattle CityClub’s 2012 Community Matters Campaign Civil Civics this past week to debate and answer audience questions.
Candidates included Democrats Darcy Burner, Suzan DelBene, Steve Hobbs, Darshan Rauniyar, and Laura Ruderman alongside Republican John Koster. The only candidate not present for the debate was Independent Larry Ishmael. Joni Balter of the Seattle Times moderated what she called the “liveliest” congressional race in the state.
The sold-out event held on the Microsoft campus was packed with press, Microsoft employees, and the general public. The audience was attentive and respectful, even amid a few tough questions and a zinging comment by Burner toward DelBene at the end of the debate.
To open the debate, Balter asked the candidates to share the issue with which they would most like to be identified, and to explain why.
Burner emphasized concerns about Super PAC money and the need to “restore government of, by, and for the people — not government bought and paid for by multimillionaires.” Burner also spoke about the Affordable Care Act, stating that everyone has a right to health care.
DelBene invoked her family’s financial struggles due to job loss. She said that she would fight for jobs. She affirmed her experience with both small and large businesses, underscoring that Congress needs someone who “understands how the private and public sectors work together.”
Hobbs declared that “Congress is broken,” and said he is running because Congress needs to be fixed. He wants to bring civility back to politics.
Koster, the lone Republican, reflected his party’s passion and the need to keep government interference at a minimum. “Solutions are found in the people, not in bigger government,” he said.
Rauniyar said voters “cannot continue to elect the same politicians again and again, and not expect the same results” — claiming he brings the fresh perspective needed to change Washington state’s current political paradigm.
Ruderman was steadfast, saying she would work to build the economy and stressing the importance of expanding affordable, high quality health care. “The lack of access is driving middle-class families into bankruptcy and that’s wrong,” she said.
In this segment, candidates were given red, green and yellow cards indicating whether they were for, against, or iffy on hot-button issues.
* All the Democratic candidates support a woman’s right to have an abortion, and the same group said they support the immigration Dream Act.
* All the Democratic candidates support Referendum 74 to uphold state law legalizing same-sex marriage, as well as Initiative 502 to make marijuana legal in limited amounts and instances.
* All the Democratic candidates support the Affordable Care Act, and they were joined by Republican Koster in voicing opposition to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling.
* Both Hobbs and Koster support I-1240 — the Charter Schools initiative. The others oppose it.
Strictly along party lines, the debate’s Democratic candidates voiced support for increasing taxes for those earning $250,000 or $500,000 or more. Koster agreed with Burner, DelBene, Hobbs, Rauniyar, and Ruderman on increasing taxes on earnings of at least $1 million.
A gun control question from the audience was promptly addressed by Burner, who supports the right to bear arms. As a gun owner, she said, there is a difference between owning an AK-47 versus a handgun licensed for self-defense.
During closing statements, Burner echoed the Occupy Movement’s mantra about the so-called 1%. “One person decided, rather than raise the money for the election, she would try to buy it,” said Burner, gesturing toward Democratic rival DelBene. Federal Election Commission reports show DelBene donated $900,000 of her own money this month to her campaign.
The collective hush of the audience said it all.
KING-TV released a poll on the primary the next day, asking: “If the primary election in Washington’s 1st Congressional District were held today, and you were filling out your ballot right now, who would you vote for?”
The results show Republican Koster would get 38%, DelBene 17%, and Burner 13%. Others received less than 10% (with the exception of undecideds at 17%). These numbers show significant movement from late May when Koster received 46%, Burner 19%, and DelBene only 4%. The top two vote-getters advance to the November 6 general election.
This poll was conducted by independent pollster SurveyUSA. It interviewed 700 registered voters; then narrowed them to 563 likely voters. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 5%.
Primary election ends on August 7
Ballots have been mailed to all registered voters. They must be postmarked no later than midnight August 7, or returned by 8:00 pm to a designated ballot drop box (or in person to county elections departments).
If you recycled or did not receive a voter pamphlet, you can review state and federal candidates with the Secretary of State’s online voter’s guide. Check your county elections website for an online guide to local candidates and measures.